DO YOU FIND THE NEAREST PARK?
December 9, 2012
that obsessions with smartphones lure some people, particularly youngsters,
away from the great outdoors are valid. Clearly, some folks prefer to
spend endless hours playing games with goofy looking birds on a cell
phone rather than going outside and looking at real birds. Nonetheless,
some apps can actually enhance environmental appreciation. I downloaded
one recently that had two features I found attractive. First, it allowed
me to find the nearest local, state or federal park in my vicinity.
Second, it was free.
Ranger! ParkFinder app, sponsored by L.L. Bean and Ford, may well become
one of the most commonly used apps for outdoor recreation activities
in the country. Enter your location by city name or zip code, then select
from several options. If you click on Find Parks, you can search for
Federal & State Parks or Local Parks. Click on the name of a park
to get its address (and how far away it is), a brief description, directions
(including a mapping option) and other pertinent information. Each park
site has a Things to Do category showing what activities are available.
the home screen you can click on "Select Things To Do." then
choose from the 20 icons depicting activities. I entered my zip code
and clicked on the Fishing icon. The app provided a list of 61 places
to drop a hook at distances ranging from 25 to 100 miles away. Additional
listings were available for parks with angling opportunities more than
100 miles away. To fish, you need water and a license, and anglers do
not really expect more information than how to get to the locality.
Next, I tapped the Bird Watching icon and found birding to be a recognized
activity at only three parks. Of course, anyone can watch birds anywhere
that there are birds, but parks that are in major flyways, have feathered
friends of special interest or try to attract waterfowl put particular
emphasis on bird watching.
categories that keep the visitor in touch with natural habitats include
specialized outdoor activities such as climbing, caving, and horseback
riding. Outdoor sports such as tennis and golf are also categories.
People interested in camping can select the Camping or RVing icons.
Once the list of parks is shown, click on one to get information about
how many tent and RV campsites there are; whether the camp sites have
water, electricity, and sewer hook ups; which sites have scenic views;
and so on.
are the kind of person who likes to plan a trip in intricate detail
before you hit the road, you can determine which state, federal and
local parks you'll encounter along the way and what activities are available
at each park. If you want to take your bikes along, you can find camps
with bicycling; if you're an avid angler, you can find camps that allow
fishing; if you're a golfer, you can find golf courses. And if you want
to camp, you can make arrangements before you begin your trip. If you
prefer a more spontaneous approach to travel, the Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder
app can help you decide whether to stop for a picnic or keep driving.
Ranger! ParkFinder app is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
with iOS 4.3 or later. And if you don't have one of those devices? You
can check out ParkFinder at LLBean.com. The online material is not identical
to the mobile app, but plenty of excellent information is available.
The ParkFinder link is at the bottom of the L.L. Bean home page, under
More to Explore.
app isn't useful just for planning stops along the way when you're heading
off on vacation. It is a superb resource for finding recreational activities
only a short drive from where you live. I can almost guarantee you will
be pleasantly surprised at how many opportunities there are for you
to enjoy the outdoors close to home.
you have an environmental question or comment, email